The MLS regular season is back in full swing, and NYCFC has ten matches left to make the playoffs.
The Cityzens have a full schedule this week and face three potentially playoff-bound teams.

The biggest question for this team is whether or not they can make a viable final playoff push and get themselves in the MLS Cup playoffs this fall.

According to NYCFC head coach Nick Cushing, there is a viable chance that this team could make the MLS Cup playoffs this fall, and of course, it is still mathematically possible.  NYCFC is sitting on an underwhelming 5-9-11 overall record and 13th place in the Eastern Conference.  How has this squad slid down so far this season – only a year or so away from winning the MLS Cup?

Let’s be honest here for a few moments.  This year’s version of the Cityzens pales compared to the side that won it all just a couple of years ago.  Yes, there have been chances to win this season, but NYCFC has one big problem, and that’s this team’s ability to finish matches.

Nick Cushing knows this and admits it while talking about recent disappointing matches:

“Over the last four or five games, we have {created chances}.  You look at Charlotte, Columbus, Philly, these games, where the stats tell us that we should have more points and we should be winning football games, but we’re not.”

What’s Next for NYCFC?

Things that are important in life sometimes don’t come easy, and the road to the playoffs for NYCFC certainly won’t be paved with roses.  The Cityzens face the Eastern Conference-leading FC Cincinnati on the road this weekend and then turn around and play CF Montreal and the Vancouver Whitecaps in the span of a week.  Not only will the schedule be rough, but just looking at these squads and their records sends a message that this week will undoubtedly be make-or-break for NYCFC.  Of course, we have to get real for a moment and acknowledge that NYCFC sits in 13th place in the Eastern Conference at this moment with a 5-9-11 record and 26 points, which means that they’re a long shot to pull up into playoff contention.  However, all is not lost, and there is still time and hope, but that clock is ticking fast.

FC Cincinnati is one of the hottest teams in MLS (regular season, of course; let’s not go down the Inter Miami rabbit hole just yet), and with a 15-3-6 overall record, NYCFC has their work cut out for them this weekend.  Of course, a major win on the road could be the proverbial shot in the arm this franchise desperately needs right now.

Even if NYCFC can pull off a big road win this weekend, they still face a solid CF Montreal squad with a 10-12-2 record who are sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and looking to make the playoffs.  If things don’t sound easy for NYCFC, they aren’t because the Vancouver Whitecaps are next up on the schedule, and they sit with an 8-8-7 record and eighth place in the Western Conference.  In reality, NYCFC will be playing against three likely playoff-bound teams in a row.  The Cityzens are currently six points out of playoff contention at this moment in time, and two big wins this coming week put them on the playoff contention line, with the next two opponents being in the Eastern Conference.

What Does NYCFC Need to Do to Win Some Matches?

The undeniable answer to that question is simple: score goals.  The shoulda-coulda-woulda days are over; nobody cares about statistics in sports unless you are winning.  We can talk about goal-scoring chance percentages and every other statistic related to this sport, but the only number that matters are wins, losses, and draws.

NYCFC has to show that these past 16 days of rest have gone to good use and that they are ready to play.

Furthermore, let’s see if the summer transfers of Moralez, Martinez, and Bakrar have been worth it.  Yes, Maxi Moralez returns to NYCFC as a sentimental favorite, but it’s time to see if he can still deliver the goods in the midfield.  Bakrar and Martinez need to be paired up with Santi Rodriguez or Talles Magno or somebody simply to do one thing: put the ball in the net. 

If NYCFC can find the right chemistry and utilize these new transfers, there’s hope that they will still make the MLS Cup Playoffs this fall.
If they drop the next few matches to the almost category, this season will mercilessly grind down to a sad end where this franchise doesn’t make the postseason for the first time in franchise history.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

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